On Wednesday, Chief Justice of India SA Bobde recommended Justice NV Ramana as his successor as the Chief Justice of India. CJI Bobde is set to retire on April 23.
According to the reports, the Chief Justice of India has sent his formal recommendation to the Government of India to appoint the second senior-most judge in the Supreme Court – NV Ramana, as the next CJI. The development comes after the centre had asked the CJI to recommend his successor less than a month before his retirement.
Currently, Justice NV Ramana is the most senior judge in the Supreme Court after CJI Bobde. Born on August 27, 1957, Justice Ramana has tenure till August 26, 2022.
Justice Ramana has earlier served as the permanent judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in June 2000. He served as Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court before being elevated to the Supreme Court in February 2014. If appointed, Justice Ramana will be the 48th Chief Justice of India.
Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde was sworn in as the 47th Chief Justice of India in November 2019, succeeding Justice (retired) Ranjan Gogoi.
Procedure for the appointment of the Chief Justice of India
The outgoing Chief Justice of India traditionally appoints the Chief Justice of India on the day or before his/her retirement. There are no exact provisions in the Constitution of India to appoint the Chief Justice of India. As there are no constitutional provisions, the procedure relies on custom and convention.
The procedure to appoint the next CJI is laid out in the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) between the government and the judiciary. As per the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP), the sitting chief justice writes a recommendation for his successor.
The procedures for the appointment of members of the higher judiciary states that the appointment to the office of the Chief Justice of India should be of the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court considered fit to hold the office.
The rules stipulate that the law minister would seek the recommendation of the outgoing Chief Justice of India for the appointment of the next CJI at an appropriate time. The Chief Justice of India then recommends the name of the second senior-most judge as per the convention.
Based on the recommendation of the CJI, the law minister puts it before the Prime Minister who advises the President in the matter of appointment.
“Whenever there is any doubt about the fitness of the senior-most Judge to hold the office of the Chief Justice of India, consultation with other Judges…would be made for the appointment of the next Chief Justice of India,” the procedure further states.
Except for the law minister seeking the recommendation from the incumbent CJI and forwarding it to the Prime Minister, the government has no say whatsoever in the appointment of the CJI.